Impacts of recent rainfall changes on agricultural productivity and water resources within the Southern Western Ghats of Kerala, India

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Significant changes in rainfall patterns are critical to agriculture, and the dependency of cropping systems on rainfall variability would engender appropriate farming practices and agriculture policies for a climate-resilient agriculture system. This study analyses the significance of rainfall variability on agriculture productivity in the Wayanad district of Kerala (India) using time series data on rainfall (1989–2019) and crop yield (2000–2019). The spatial variability of rainfall patterns reveals a dichotomy between the rain gauge stations in the northern and southern parts of the region. Despite the absence of statistically significant trends in the monthly, seasonal and annual rainfall, based on the Mann-Kendall trend analysis, an increase in the yield of many crops (e.g., winter paddy, banana) is evident, which emphasises the critical role of irrigation in driving the crop productivity. As an adaptation strategy to changing rainfall patterns, irrigation would meet the additional crop water requirement for sustainable agricultural production under the varying rainfall distributions. However, the increase in the area under irrigation in recent years has had significant implications for both surface water and groundwater resources. The conclusive findings suggest that the region requires climate-resilient agriculture, focusing on optimising irrigation and developing sustainable agriculture and water conservation strategies.

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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment